6 Best Breathing Exercises for Anxiety

By Dr. Sachin Singh | 21st Oct 2021

6 Best Breathing Exercises for Anxiety

Breathing is a necessary part of life that most people take for granted. When you breathe in air, your blood cells absorb oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a waste product that is exhaled after being carried back through your body.

Improper breathing can disrupt the exchange of CO2 and oxygen, leading to anxiety, panic attacks & other physical and emotional disturbances.

Breathing exercise is the simplest way to achieve your goals of reducing stress, improving lung capacity, or simply staying healthy.

Breathing exercise has the additional advantage of not taking over an excessive amount of time, can improve the standard of your life by sharpening your cognitive functions, reducing stress and anxiety, improving the quality of sleep, contributing to your cardiovascular health, and cleansing your body.

There are various types of breathing techniques with varying degrees of difficulty. Some of the best breathing exercises to help you achieve the results are:

1. Belly breathing exercise

Find a comfortable & quiet place to sit or lie down.
Sit in a chair, cross-legged, or lie on your back.
Put one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly, just below your ribcage.
Allow your belly to relax without squeezing or clenching your muscles.
Slowly inhale through your nose. The air should move into your nose and downward so that you can feel your stomach rise and fall inward with your other hand (toward your spine).
Slowly exhale through slightly pursed lips. Keep an eye on your hand on your chest, which should be relatively still.

Although the frequency of the sequence will vary depending on your health, most people begin by doing the exercise three times and gradually increase it to six to ten minutes, one to five times per day.

2. Box breathing exercise

Box breathing, also known as four-square breathing, is very simple to learn and practice.

Indeed, if you’ve ever noticed yourself inhaling and exhaling to the beat of a song, you’re already acquainted with this type of paced breathing. This is how it works:

Exhale to a four-count.
Hold your breath for four counts with your lungs empty.
Inhale until you reach a count of four.
Hold the air in your lungs for four counts.
Exhale and restart the pattern.

3. Lion’s breath exercise

Another beneficial deep breathing exercise is lion’s breath, or simhasana in Sanskrit, in which you stick out your tongue and roar like a lion.

It can help you relax your face and jaw muscles, relieve stress, and improve your cardiovascular function.

This breathing exercise is best done in a seated position, leaning forward slightly with your hands on your knees or the floor.

Spread your fingers as far as they will go.
Inhale deeply through your nose.
Open your mouth wide and stretch your tongue down toward your chin.
Exhale forcefully, bringing your breath across the base of your tongue.
Make a “ha” sound from deep within your abdomen while exhaling.
For a few moments, breathe normally.
Repeat the lion’s breath eight times.

4. Even breathing exercises

Before going to bed, this breathing exercise is best practised.

Close your eyes and sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
Breathe in four counts through the nose and out four counts through the nose.

You will feel natural resistance during exhalation. After a few days, you can increase the number of counts per breath from four to eight.

This breathing exercise can help you if you have trouble falling asleep. It relaxes the mind and aids in the elimination of distracting thoughts.

5. Diaphragmatic breathing exercise

Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, promotes proper diaphragmatic use.

Begin this breathing exercise by lying down with your knees slightly bent and your head elevated if you are a beginner.
To easily achieve this position, place a pillow under your head and knees.
Breathe in slowly with your stomach pushing against your palm after placing one hand on your upper chest and the other slightly below your rib cage.
Exhale through your pursed lips.
During both inhalation and exhalation, keep your hand on your chest still.

You can practice this exercise while seated once you’ve mastered it.

6. Different nostril breathing exercises

This exercise, also known as Nadi shodhana pranayama in Sanskrit, clears the body and mind of stress, increases oxygen circulation, detoxifies the body, maintains the internal temperature, and evokes a sense of serenity.

Sit in a comfortable position and relax your hands, shoulders, and neck to loosen your body.
Your left hand should be placed on your left knee, palm facing the sky, or slightly touching the thumb and index finger.
The tips of your right index and middle fingers should gently touch the area between your brows, while the thumb and ring finger of the same hand should be placed on your right and left nostrils, respectively.
On the left nostril, place the little finger of your right hand near the ring finger.
Exhale first, then close your right nostril with your right thumb.
Inhale through your left nostril, close it with your ring and little fingers, and hold your breath for two counts.
Now, let go of your thumb and exhale through the right nostril.
Breathe in through your right nostril, close it with your thumb, and exhale through your left nostril while releasing your little and ring fingers.

This is a single cycle of exercise. Repeat nine times more, and then exhale through the left nostril to complete the exercise.

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